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Meet William Thomas Hayes Burchell

Gunner William Thomas Hayes Burchell

A brief look into One hour and 56 Minutes of Terror, in anyone's language!

The weather conditions were poor, the wind was strong from the south-east and there was a heavy sea, conditions which precluded the use of the lower 6 inch gun casemates on the sides of H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' in any action.

At 18:04 the British Fleet turned four points towards the enemy, only to be thwarted by von Spee conforming: he realised the danger of a fight when his gunlayers were blinked by the glare of the setting sun. At 18:18 Cradock radioed the H.M.S.Canopus 'I am now going to attack the enemy', to which the battle ship replied with her position. At this time the distance between the two forces was still two miles outside of the range of their heavy guns. The Germans waited until 19:00 before making a move as the British ships which were now silhouetted against the afterglow of the setting sun, the position of the German vessels made them appear as smudged shapes in the gathering darkness.

At 12,300 yards the enemy opened fire, the British found themselves in range of 12 of the enemies 8.2 inch guns, to which only two 9.2 inch guns aboard H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' could reply.

During the ensuing engagements the forward 9.2 inch gun aboard H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' was rendered inoperable by the Scharnhorst. With the range now down to 5,500 yards H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' received serious hits in the fore part of the ship, on the upper bridge, and on the foretop. She was also repeatedly hit amidships, most of these causing fires, the flames could be seen through the portholes. The aft battery was hit several times. Two shells hit the after turret.

by 19:45 it was quite dark, H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' was obviously in distress, H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' was firing only a few of her guns, with fires onboard increasing their brilliance. At 19:50 there was a terrible explosion between her mainmast and her after funnel, the flames reaching a height of over 200 feet, after which she lay between the lines, a black hull lighted only by a dull glow.

Gunner William Thomas Hayes Burchell

Due to Darkness, Poor Weather and Heavy Sea's, No one saw H.M.S.'GOODHOPE' go down with all hands at around 20:00


The Tower of London Remembers the First World War, This link will take you to the 10th November 2014 video of the reading of the names of the Fallen. William Thomas Hayes Burchell has his name read at 03:38.

This link will take you to 6th of June 1989 when Nola Burchell interviews her Father, Harold Burchell the Son of William Thomas Hayes Burchell on his personal experiences of being a Japanese Prisoner of War.

This link will take you to The Grim Glory of the 2/19 Battalion A.I.F. Chapter 13 (written by Harold Burchell)

Full List of available Readings from the Tower of London, during the installation.